Pretty, witty and refreshingly honest — this budding star is all set to break into Bollywood.Meet Arhana Dhawann — an aspiring actress who hails from New Delhi, has honed her craft in Los Angeles and now lives in the city of dreams, as she chases her own. We ask the spirited young girl if there’s anything she’d like to say to her future audience… “Watch out for her!” she exclaims with a genuine smile.
And beyond the camera, this history-loving, art- art-appreciating fashionista shares her life’s adventures, friendships and aspirations with a candid charm that surely makes her a rising star to watch out for.
In Conversation With Arhana Dhawan
HELLO!: Arhana, tell us a little about yourself. Did you study acting in college and if so, how has that influenced your approach to the craft?
Arhana Dhawann: “I attended the Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles — and I was in class with Jack Nicholson’s frightfully handsome son, Ray, so it’s safe to say my attendance was perfect! (laughs) However, I’d say my best training has been in Mumbai, where I worked as a casting assistant and attended acting workshops. While there’s no substitute for formal training, there’s no learning quite like learning on the job. Coming from New Delhi and settling in Mumbai gives me the best of both worlds, much like my training from the East and the West.”
H!: What inspired you to pursue acting professionally?
AD: “I remember watching Chak De! India and wanting to be a hockey player, watching Blood Diamond and wanting to be a journalist, watching The Wolf of Wall Street and wanting to be a banker, and even watching Jodhaa Akbar and wanting to be a princess! ( I was convinced that was a real job), until I realised that what I actually wanted to be was an actor.”
H!: Are you close to someone in the industry? What’s the best advice you’ve received from them?
AD: “The best advice I’ve ever received is from someone I don’t know personally. I met Katrina Kaif once and she was kind enough to chat with me. I told her I was looking to begin my career in films and she said to me, ‘Blinders on, keep going till you get to where you want. Believe in yourself and develop a thick skin.’”
H!: What would your dream debut look like? What kind of roles would you like to take on?
AD: “My dream role is either Shah Rukh Khan’s from Kal Ho Naa Ho or Deepika Padukone’s from Chennai Express. All I know is that I’ve been in the audience all my life, seeking entertainment. So the ultimate dream is to be able to entertain the audience through my work.”
H!: Who is your biggest source of inspiration, personally or professionally?
AD: “Personally, it’s my father; he’s always shown me through example that there’s no substitute for hard work and perseverance. Professionally, it would be Zeenat Aman, she’s an icon for the ages — on and off screen — and as real as one can get.”
H!: Where would we find 16-year-old Arhana hanging out, and what would she be doing there?
AD: “Arhana at 16 was a full history nerd! Buried under a tub of Nutella, devling into the Indian freedom movement and post-partition India — reading relentlessly. She was also obsessed with Gayatri Devi post a trip to Jaipur.”
H!: How do you spend your time when you’re not hustling for work?
AD: “I feel most energised in front of the camera or in dance class. I like to go horse riding or eat a bowl of rajma while watching Modern Family. Art is also a passion of mine and reading about it helps me unwind. I even wrote a book about Atul Dodiya when I was 15 — and with the grace of God, it’ll never see the light of day! (laughs)”
H!: We live vicariously through your travels on social media! Tell us about your favourite destination and your time spent there.
AD: “Gstaad, Switzerland, for New Year’s Eve is the one time of year I can take off, and my friends from around the world come together. Walking into the palace lobby on December 30 is like a warm hug; it’s more than just a fun place, it has sentimental value.”
H!: You’re also quite the fashionista! Describe your personal style.
AD: “Comfort is key, but on a day I’m feeling comfortable in my skin (admittedly, a work in progress) the tightest corset or highest heel won’t bother me. I’ve been raised to value every penny so I don’t like to shop unless it’s necessary and I’ll preserve a chikankari suit the same way I’ll preserve a Chanel bag; like precious cargo.”
H!: Tell us a little about your close circle of friends. Is there a special memory that comes to mind?
AD: “This one time, my best friends, Sergio Farias, Isabel Smith and I wanted to go to Aspen for New Year’s Eve because we were invited to a Hollywood icon’s party... and we decided to drive. It was a 17-hour trip one way and about 10 hours in, when it was my turn to take the wheel, I revealed that I didn’t know how to drive! They had to cover for me while I took a comfortable nap. (laughs)”
H!: What would you manifest for the new year?
AD: “Good health, good work, good friends and family.”
Interview: Ananya Shankar; Photos: Prabhat Shetty; Stylist: Sabrina White; Make Up: Poonam Surve; Hair: Netra Chavan; Managed By: Exceed Entertainment
This interview is from HELLO! India’s January 2024 issue. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!